Golf Is A Many Splendored Thing….

This week’s U.S. Open led me back to an unpublished piece I wrote a little while back. With a great weekend of golf behind us, it somehow seemed appropriate.

It is said you learn more about a person in playing 18 holes of golf with them than you do over twenty years of normal interaction. You find out how that person handles adversity. Do they cheat? How do they treat people like bag boys and caddies? Their spouse? Is it all about them? Great studies in human nature.

Low handicappers as rule are slow and  somewhat self absorbed. They want to hit that perfect shot. When they do and when they don’t, they want to tell you all about it. And of course they will tell you right away what club they hit. Who really cares what club you hit? Is it on or off the green?

High scorers are different. They spend hours over the ball. Not from concentration but indecision. Let me see? Are my hands right? What about my aim? I have to remember what the pro said about taking it back. Will you just hit the friggin’ ball? Self conscious? Excuses. Excuses.  I looked up. I pulled it. I shanked it. Don’t ever say that word. It is either a pitch out or a Chinese hook.

Betting is another thing. It should be straightforward but sometimes has so many variations you could be up or down big in the space of a few shots. The most I have ever heard bet on the course was $100,000. Michael Jordan usually plays for $25,000. Me? I love a $2 or $5 Nassau but that is considered bush league by today’s standards.

There was a story going around about Gulph Mills Country Club on the Mainline in Philly. It seems several years ago three young turks were teamed up with the president of Sunoco in a Saturday morning pickup game. The hot shots wanted to play for big money and kept needling the CEO. Exasperated, the senior exec asked the biggest mouth how much money he made last year? He replied, $100,000. He said, “Fine, I’ll roll you dice for that and then we will play a two dollar Nassau.” Case closed.

I love to needle and in turn have it shot right back. Banter takes on whole levels of finesse especially as one’s opponent is about to strike the ball. I also love to cheerlead and help without becoming an authority. If you have seen my golf swing you understand why I keep instruction in big terms and not theory. KISS. Keep it simple stupid.

When he was alive, my brother belonged to quite a few golf courses. Like ten or eleven at one count. It was great when I pulled my hat down, we looked enough alike that I could come strolling into some of the finest courses in the country and have them say, “Good Morning Mr. Kenny.” Of course I  would nod and keep right on moving. I love it when a plan comes together.

The best thing he taught me was how to treat guests. He really didn’t care about how he played but rather were you having a good time. He was beyond gracious and caring to the staff and it reflected in their friendship with him. Good lessons to learn.

We had opening day at Lakewood last month. Teams of five played in a scramble where you used the best shot of the five and kept playing the hole. Great because at some point everyone contributes. I played with three great guys and one who was a pain in le derriere.

This gentleman never cracked a smile. He was a very good golfer but always complained. He would call the putts and if it didn’t break the way he thought it would, it was of course because you hit it wrong. He was aloof. He was arrogant. He took away from everyone else’s fun day.

The point is simple. He could have been so much more. I really felt sorry for the guy. It was a gorgeous day. We were on a golf course. What could really be wrong? I mentioned it to a friend and he said he had seen the act before. He stated the guy probably never had a good day in his life. How sad.

Lessons learned. Don’t take your self too seriously. Life is too short. We are on the right side of the sod. Realize how much your good or bad mood can affect others. It’s only a game. Kind of like life.

As always

Ted The Great

Factoids:

There are approximately 16,000 golf course in the US. Roughly 25% are private. 300 courses are maintained by the military.

We spend $76 billion a year on golf. That is split between 26 million golfers but not evenly. 50% reported spending over $1000 a year on equipment. 2% of golfers spend $15,000 or more on everything.

The most expensive public greens fee is Pebble Beach @$495. That’s about $125 per hour. Usually you can get on a local public course for $30.

It is estimated that 300 million golf balls are lost in the Us every year. Now if you are only allowed to look for five minutes, how much time do spend chasing those little white things down.

There are 5.75 million female golfers.

Only 22% of all golfers score better than 90 for 18 holes. The average score is 97 for men and 114 for women.

Remember: Every shot makes somebody happy.

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